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Chaldean Archbishop’s Call for Support

17 Mar 2008 – The head of CNEWA’s regional office for Jordan and Iraq, Mr. Ra’ed Bahou, released today a letter dated 18 January 2008 from the now deceased Chaldean archbishop of Mosul, Paulos Faraj Rahho, who asked for prayers and continued support for the church in Mosul.

“I am sure you know what happened on Sunday, 6 January,” the archbishop began, citing the destruction of a parish church, two convents and a child care institution of the Little Daughters of Mary in Mosul. “We are asking for your prayers to remove this cloud from our country and our church,” he continued. “We want to stay in our beloved land, despite the situation and the sufferings, especially after these last bombings.”

The blasts occurred in a single hour as Christians in Mosul celebrated the feast of the Epiphany.

The archbishop added that the eparchy continued to provide “nonstop pastoral services for Chaldean families forced from Baghdad and other insecure areas” who had settled in Qaraqosh, Bartella Ba’shiqa and Behzani, reasonably secure Christian villages in northern Iraq. In addition to CNEWA’s support for catechetical and youth programs, the archbishop requested CNEWA’s support for the restoration of the destroyed properties of the church, noting that “as a result of immigration, violence, kidnappings, bombings and unemployment,” the church’s revenue had declined by more than 25 percent, forcing him to turn for help.

“We do not want to close our churches or leave Mosul,” Archbishop Rahho said, adding, “personally, I will be the last person to leave.”

Archbishop Rahho was kidnapped Friday, 29 February, after celebrating the Qurbana, the Eucharist of the Chaldean Church. His driver and a bodyguard were killed when masked gunmen sprayed his car with bullets. The body of the archbishop was found almost two weeks later, partially buried in a southeastern part of the city.

CNEWA is an agency of the Holy See founded in 1926 to support the peoples and churches of the East. CNEWA works in the Middle East through the Pontifical Mission for Palestine, established by Pope Pius XII in 1949 to coordinate worldwide Catholic aid to refugees in the Middle East. Its administration entrusted to CNEWA, the Pontifical Mission today functions as the Holy See’s relief and development agency for the Middle East. Programs include emergency relief, including help to displaced Lebanese, Iraqi and Palestinian families, long-term community redevelopment projects, job-creation programs and medical care.